Paper Piecing Basics – Positioning

paper piecing positioning

Learn how to cut and position your fabric on your Rail Fence paper pattern.


Much Better Than Others

Thank you so much, I understood this much better than others I’ve seen.

Maura Capiak

download transcripts VideoTranscript: Paper Piecing: Paper Piecing Basics - Positioning (2 of 4 Videos)

Your pattern has the numbers #1, #2 and #3 on one side.  This is where your fabric is going to go.  It also has a dark straight line or a couple dark straight lines.  This is where you are going to sew and it has a dashed line.  This is for your ¼” seam allowance.

If you decide to sew this block to other blocks, you are going to need that ¼” seam allowance.  For example in this quilt, you can see that I have sewn one, two, three, and four of these Rail Fence blocks together.  In order to sew that together, I had to have the seam allowance.

The first thing you are going to do with your pattern is to look at it and see that you are going to sew between fabric #1 and #2 on this dark line.  Before I take this to the sewing machine, I like to fold on that line.  This fold helps me to tear off the paper later because it weakens the fibers.  It helps me position fabric down the road.  The easiest way that I find to fold that is to take a card or a post card.  Lay it down and just fold.  So I have got that folded between #1 and #2.  If I want to I can fold it back because every time I fold that weakens those fibers in that paper.  It makes it much easier to tear that paper out down the road.

Now I am ready for my fabric.  If you look at this one, you’ll see that I have #1, #2, and #3.  I have the three different fabrics.  The first one that I am going to pick up is Fabric #1.  This is a scrap that was already cut in a strip.  You don’t have to cut strips but I will say that it makes it a little bit easier when I am getting this fabric cut.

I’ll take this fabric and lay it over #1.  I am going to give me a little extra room here and a little room up there.  I’m going to cut it.  You do not have to worry if it is nice and straight on the sides.  The only thing that you need to do is make sure that this piece covers #1; that it covers this black line and that it makes it to the seam allowance line.  So here we go.  That piece covers and so I have cut Fabric #1.

Now I am ready to cut Fabric #2.  This is a big piece so I am going to cut out some of the bulk in it.  You can rotary cut if you want to but I am just using a scissors.  So let’s take this piece I’ve cut.  I see.  Here’s #2.  I see that this piece covers.  If I want to cut it down I can but there’s really no need.  I’ve checked.  It covers up to the dashed line.  On this side it covers the dashed line, on this side, on the bottom it covers the dashed line and it goes over this black line.  That piece will be sufficient to use.

Now I am ready to position my fabric.  My fabric goes on the back of the pattern which is why paper piecing is confusing sometimes.  I’m going to tilt this a little and hopefully you’ll be able to see those lines.  If you hold it up to the sun or to a light, you can usually see through the pattern.

Here’s #1.  I’m going to take my Fabric #1.  The first fabric on paper piecing patterns always goes face up right over the top of the #1.  So this is my first piece of fabric.  It is going to go face up.  I need to make sure that it is covering #1.  I’ll turn it over and hold it up to a light.  You can see that the fabric goes up to the dashed line and down here at the bottom of the dashed line.  You should see that there is extra on both of these solid lines.  I’m ready to pin that.  I’m going to pin that in place.

Let me turn this around to get the numbers right.  So here we have #1, #2 and #3.  So Fabric #2 is going to go here but I don’t put it on the numbers side.  I have to turn it over.  It is going to go on the back side.  So Fabric #2 is right here where my finger is.  Let’s lay this down.  This is how it is going to look when it is sewn.  You are going to have #1 and #2.  Let me pull this one out.  It’s going to look like this.

I like to place the piece where it is going to go.  When I sew (traditionally) I put right sides together.  When I sew in paper piecing, I’m going to put right sides together.  Fabric #1 is pinned so I leave that there and I’m going to flip Fabric #2  over the top of #1.  I’m going to turn it to this side and I’m going to pin.  I’ll take this pin out and the place where I will pin is down this sewing line.  Let’s see.  Let’s get that right on that sewing line.  The reason why I want to pin there is I want to see what it will be like when I take it to my sewing machine.  If I sew that line, will this piece of fabric be in the right place?  Yes, it will.  I just pulled it back.  Let’s look on this side.  It’s going to cover up here.  It’s going to cover that side.  It’s going to cover the bottom.

So I can take this my sewing machine and sew it.  Before I take it over there, I want to make sure that this pin is taken out.  I like to pin this way.  I don’t want to sew over the top of that long pin.  So NOW I am ready to go to the sewing machine.

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